There’s the old saying, “To thine own self be true” and I’m living proof.
I was born and raised into a vanilla ice cream family and that was problem since I am a neopolitan person. Being different can be a blessing or a curse. Growing up in a middle class, working class, ethnic family during the 1960’s encouraged certain expectations for the youngest and only girl in my household. In high school, I took classes in shorthand and typing but mixed in college preparatory courses to my parents chagrin. I was a nerd when girls were expected to be flirtatious and popular. After all, bra size was valued more than IQ and a girl was expected to marry out of high school. I had higher expectations.
I graduated without any husband prospects. Actually, I had never even dated and wanted to attend college. I was given a choice: a small car and commuting to the nearby community college or two years at the college of my choice, during which time I would have to find a husband.
After choosing the car and community college route, I graduated with honors and the intention of furthering my education. My parents agreed with the understanding that I would attend a nice college and obtain the MRS before the BS.
Fooled them. I graduated from a prestigious four-year school with only my BS, majoring in business and embarking on a career in outside sales. Though I had been promoted to an executive level, my mother told the relatives that I was a secretary. Business was, after all, a man’s career.
To add further insult to the family, I married at the “old” spinster age of 28 to an older man. Gasp … we never had children (not by choice but circumstance). Procreation, after all, is a woman’s purpose in life or so I’ve been told.
Nonconformist that I am, I embarked on careers that my parents would never understand.
I decided to do what I love instead of just earning an income. Life is too short, I surmised.
Actually, me and Superman have a lot in common. We are both from Cleveland. By day we are both bespectacled nerdy writers but by night we transform. He into a superhero and me into “Nailah,” the Middle Eastern belly dance instructor and performer.
As a child, when I used to write, my mother would ask me why I was wasting my time, that no one was ever going to read my writing. Writing for me is like breathing, something that I have to do.
I became a writer and an author. I’ve freelanced for years, specializing in architecture, construction, profiles and special interest locally and nationally. I was commissioned to write two local history books, one a coffee table book on Cleveland, “Cleveland, Ohio: A Photographic Portrait,” by a national publisher that is widely distributed. One of my novels, “Paradise Found,” a multi-cultural romance set in the exotic Seychelles Islands, had been published by a small press as an e-book. The publisher, subsequently, went out of business but I am re-publishing it myself. In June, my paranormal romance, “Lab Test,” was published by Crimson Romance (www.crimsonromance.com), a division of large publisher Adam’s Media as an e-book. I am contracted for two more novels with them.
Over twenty-five years ago, I took my first Middle Eastern belly dance class and was hooked. Ever since graduating from high school, I have made a point of learning two new skills a year. This was one that I have pursued with a passion.
Middle Eastern belly dance is misunderstood. It is the world’s oldest dance, not oldest profession. It originated in Egypt as an expression of female empowerment, femininity and reproduction. The dance is not only a form of self-expression and exercise, but is mental and spiritual. The dance aids in self-esteem, body awareness and acceptance. It is meditative.
Dance has taken me around the country and around the world, having studied and danced in Egypt. I instruct at a university as well as at the prestigious Chautauqua Institution in New York State. I have a cadre of students and give lectures-presentation-performances to women’s groups and at wellness seminars. I even write about belly dance locally and nationally for the web magazine, www.Examiner.com
Like the Robert Frost poem, I have followed “the road not taken and it has made all the difference.”